February 16, 2012
Fantuz on snooze
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
CALGARY - The CFL did the right thing and started free-agency at 10 a.m. Wednesday instead of the old late-night kickoff.
Maybe that didn’t suit the biggest fish in the pond.
Receiver Andy Fantuz is on vacation in Africa, which meant he was probably asleep while the league went abuzz with chatter Wednesday afternoon.
While Fantuz’s next destination in the CFL is the league’s biggest question, it wasn’t answered on the first day of free agency.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were plenty active, anyway, even with nothing happening with their free-agent receiver.
First, the Riders lost import receiver Cary Koch to the Edmonton Eskimos, but then they signed offensive lineman Dominic Picard (Toronto Argonauts) to help solidify their centre position.
The Riders also added hometown defensive back Paul Woldu, a Regina native who played four seasons with the Montreal Alouettes following a training-camp tryout with Gang Green in 2006.
Geography might have something to do with the Riders’ next big signing. Brendon LaBatte, a product of Weyburn, Sask., toured the Riders facility and was working on a deal that would see the offensive lineman leave the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after four solid seasons in Manitoba.
The Bombers were busy, too, first locking up tackle Glenn January and then going through a soap opera with receiver Greg Carr.
There were reports early in the day Carr would be signing with the Eskimos. Carr’s agent indicated later that the 6-foot-6 wideout would have good news for Bombers fans, and it was reported a deal was close.
By the day’s end, it once again looked as if the Eskimos would land Carr, which would officially put them out of the Fantuz sweepstakes as GM Eric Tillman has a stockpile of receivers.
The Eskimos added to their stable of Canadian defensive tackles by raiding the Bombers earlier in the day and stealing Don Oramasionwu, who enters his fourth CFL season.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats re-signed import linebacker Ike Brown, while the B.C. Lions didn’t let import defensive backs Ryan Phillips and Dante Marsh hit the open market.
Canadians are always the hot players on the free-agent market, but linebacker Jason Pottinger chose to remain with the Toronto Argonauts instead of going elsewhere.
But all roads lead back to Fantuz, who will garner the most attention until he picks a suitor.
With technology these days, being on the other side of the world isn’t necessarily a problem, except that nothing is ever official in the CFL until names get put onto paper.
At this point, the favourites to win the bidding are the Riders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and expect the latter to keep pushing hard for the Chatham, Ont., native.
Ticats owner Bob Young is apparently excited about the possibility of bringing in Fantuz.
“Andy Fantuz is on vacation in Africa,” Young wrote on his Twitter feed. “Always wanted to go on Safari to bag a big Cat.”